Fifty Shades of Caution

Dave Boehi February 11, 2015

With the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie this Friday, it seems tempting for women, and even some men, to want to be a part of the conversation.

For some, the decision to go to the movie is simple once they learn the plot. Others are curious and want to try it out, so to speak. Still others can’t understand what the fuss is about. “This isn’t real, after all, it’s just fiction. It might even spice up your sex life!”

Many women are drawn to stories of romance, and this franchise has become a national sensation – the book and its two sequels ranked first, second and third at the top of the New York Times paperback bestseller list.

It seems that everyone is talking about this series and the temptation to want to be a part of that conversation is real.

The right place for sexual desire

Some people will say it’s unfair to criticize a movie I haven’t seen. Usually I agree with that argument, but not when it comes to erotica or pornography. Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Erotic photos, videos and books are designed to stimulate sexual desire. From a biblical standpoint, sexual desire is good as long as it’s in the right context. I think it’s safe to say the creators of erotica and pornography are not concerned about helping couples build stronger marriages.

    Instead, it invites men and women to fantasize about sexual relationships outside of marriage and leads to unhealthy comparisons with your spouse. If the sexual relationship in a marriage is weak, reading erotica or viewing porn is not a way to add sparks.

  2. Erotica and pornography promote a corrupted view of something God designed as beautiful. Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says it well:
    Rightly understood and rightly ordered, marriage is a picture of God’s own covenantal faithfulness. Marriage is to display God’s glory, reveal God’s good gifts to His creatures and protect human beings from the inevitable disaster that follows when sexual passions are divorced from their rightful place.

    The physicality of the male and female bodies cries out for fulfillment in the other. The sex drive calls both men and women out of themselves and toward a covenantal relationship that is consummated in a one-flesh union. By definition, sex within marriage is not merely the accomplishment of sexual fulfillment on the part of two individuals who happen to share the same bed. Rather, it is mutual self-giving that reaches pleasures both physical and spiritual.
    A man who directs his sexual drive toward the one-flesh relationship in marriage “is the perfect paradigm of God’s intention in creation,” Mohler says.

    By contrast, a man involved with pornography subverts his sex drive toward lust and self-gratification.

    “Rather than taking satisfaction in a wife, he looks at dirty pictures in order to be rewarded with sexual arousal that comes without responsibility, expectation or demand.”

  3. Bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism in Fifty Shades of Grey. These practices are the opposite of the “mutual self-giving” that should characterize a holy, biblical sexual relationship in marriage.

  4. Even a fictional book can have damaging consequences. Words can penetrate your mind in negative ways just as images can. In Philippians 4:8 the Bible tells us, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

    Can you truly do that while simultaneously reading this book?

  5. You don’t need to join every conversation. We like to think that teenagers are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure, but sometimes I wonder if it’s just as bad for adults. Think of what a mother tells her kids: “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do the same thing?” The same goes for friends urging you to read erotica or look at pornography.

Is it good for your marriage?

“I’ve been studying what God says about sexuality for 15 years,” writes Dannah Gresh in a blog post titled, “I’m Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey:”

According to Him, there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in me: my husband. Since that’s God’s plan for my sexual desire, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention. (Translation: it is sin.)

Jesus said it this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man.

So you’ve got to ask yourself: Is any of that good for your marriage?

My hope and prayer is that Christian women, when faced with the temptation of a movie like Fifty Shades of Grey, will “be watchful” and “stand firm in the faith.”

For more articles about marriage, faith and parenting, visit FamilyLife, the family ministry of Cru.

Copyright © 2012, 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This article is updated from the original, which appeared in the June 18, 2012 issue of Marriage Memo.

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